Monday, September 15, 2008

Panel Discussion Four: Are We Aiming at the Right Target? Will Students Be Prepared with Current Expectations?

Americans have long taken comfort in the belief that the U.S. education system is among the best in the world. However, the evidence shows that the rest of the world has caught, and in many cases, surpassed us in educational performance. This discussion will focus on the need to raise the level of expectations for K-12 students to ensure that they emerge from high school prepared for success in higher education and in the modern workplace. In particular, the session will focus on state efforts to work together to improve standards, proposals to create model national standards, as well as views from key leaders in higher education and the business community on the high costs of remediation and re-training.

To view the complete discussion, go to

* Moderator: David Bradley, Owner, Atlantic Media Company
* Vicki Phillips, Director, College Ready Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
* Gene Wilhoit, President, Council of Chief State School Officers
* Michael Ortiz, President, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
* William Green, Chairman & CEO, Accenture and Chairman Business Roundtable’s Education, Innovation and Workforce Initiative

Excerpts from the discussion:

Vicki Phillips:
“We remain hugely committed to all kids being college ready. Three lessons learned:
1. The interaction between students and teachers make all the difference in the world. Assessment data is where we see the most change.
2. We already know what works but we can't seem to make those strategies travel well across this country. How can we take on things that don't have national definitions?
3. We must have a deep sense of urgency.”

“Many foreign governments have more clarity than we do on assessments, standards, etc., as well as in areas where we don't even have national definitions yet. We are not keeping pace with the global community.”

“We are complacent when it comes to education.”

“Standards and data systems are paramount to having and accessing our success.”

“We sometimes forget that our 50 states accomplish quite a lot when they're inspired. How do we create a better assessment system? How do we come to consensus to create national standards?”

“The majority of states seem to want national standards so I am feeling cautiously optimistic.”

Gene Wilhoit:
“Many governors now say they are education governors. Every governor has tied education to economic development, and to competitiveness. They're driven on a short-term agenda. It's around standards, developing data systems, accountability.”

“Chinese leaders told us last year that their students were competitive at the American student level. Their goal is to do as well and surpass the United States. They're making investments at various levels of reform and getting results.”

“We're seeing more and more of the foreign students who come here to college are now going back to their home countries because there are more economic opportunities there.”

“We need to get by this debate of federal, state and local standards. We need one set of standards. Sixteen states have decided to agree to one set of standards. The standards need to be put in a form that the public and the business community understand.”

“We have to benchmark our work against other countries, not against other states.”

“There is great disparity among states on expectations. There was a tremendous resistance to federal expectations – Bush’s idea may have been an idea before its time.”

“We have done a fairly good job with those schools on the margins but not with the failing schools.”

“Since the development of NCLB, all states now have standards. The states are now being strategic about what they need to do compared to pre-NCLB.”

“Federal standards…negative reaction originally but there is an alternative. We need common standards. States have decided to move towards common standards; 44 states in the process.”

“The politics of education is essential to economic growth.”

“Still a sense that we still have a country to be admired but this is a more historical view of our society and not the view of the contemporary society.”

“Standards must be in the form that people understand. Standards must make students college ready. Standards must be internationally benchmarked. Standards must be based on student performance.”

“Congress could play a role in supporting the States in raising and meeting the newer, higher standards.”

William Green:
“We need talent to compete. The company with the best people wins. Competition is global. To have a competitive company, we need competitive institutions, the competitiveness of a workforce is important to all CEOs.”

“Globalization is here to stay and we have to be ready to compete.”

“Business has a huge stake in improving public education. At the Business Roundtable we desire a competitive economy, competitive companies, a competitive nation and a competitive and innovative workforce. This requires a highly educated and skilled workforce.”

“In India, parents steer their children to math and science. China is the same way. We have to raise the bar here in the United States. Parent engagement is crucial for success of student. Attracting and retaining talent is what companies think of and more and more, we tend to think of talent globally.”

“When China decides it wants to raise the bar in education it does it institutionally and nationally. We need to do the same if we are to remain competitive economically. If we do not set the bar, it will be set by our competitors.”

“The average time a CEO is on the job is 3.5 years so we have a sense of urgency concerning establishing lasting reform.”

“What we're attempting to do in CA is use the high school exit exam, taken in 11th grade, to determine if students are college ready. We added 15 questions to the exit exam, and this Early Assessment Program has shown us which students need remedial education to enter college.”

“California measures the difference between what the students need to graduate and what the colleges expect the students need to know to be college ready.”

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